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#42598 - 09/26/01 05:30 PM Re: Gender and Articles
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>assuming we are roughly contemporaries, you were about 14 years old during that golden era: I have to commend you, you were a far more avid reader than was I.

Yes, I'm with inselpeter, if I get his gist, I think that you are thinking of the wrong kind of articles. Come on you guys reading Playboy as a fourteen year old boy, pull the other one!



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#42599 - 09/27/01 11:47 AM Re: the migratory "n"
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I just read the an apron became a napron, which became a napkin part. Actually® it started out as a napron and the n migrated over to the a. A napron is a big one and a napkin is a little one.


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#42600 - 09/27/01 11:51 AM Re: Reading Playboy
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Well, [silent Harrumph®] I, for one, never *read Playboy when I was 14!!!

I just looked at the pictures.


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#42601 - 09/27/01 12:04 PM Re: the migratory "n"
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
arpon / napron / napkin
Faldage is right - rechecking my source shows that my recall was wrong, but suggests a longer story.

My source indicates that English took the Old French word naperon (= "little tablecloth") but used it for the larger covering; later the phrase for that large covering changed from "a napron" to "an apron". That source does not indicate, however, how English got "napkin" for the small covering.

Faldage, can you help further?


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#42602 - 09/27/01 01:05 PM Re: Helping further
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
how English got "napkin" for the small covering.

I allus thought -on was an augmentive suffix , so I dunno if you're gone believe me. Without consulting the discredited AHD I'd say that the nap part was the root and meant something like hunk of cloth with a protective function against food and the -kin was just the good old English diminutive suffix.


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#42603 - 09/27/01 02:05 PM Re: Helping further
Hyla Offline
addict

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I'm wondering about situations where the gender of a noun changes its meaning or sense. Spanish has a few words that can take either gender in their article. The only one that comes to mind is mar, the word for "sea," which is usually a masculine noun but is sometimes considered a feminine noun when used in more literary language, and in some idiomatic expressions.

A twist on this is adjectives that only take one gender's ending - an example being the Italian word figo which means "cool," as in "way cool pocket OED, dude" but is only ever given the masculine ending - ending it in an "a" changes it to a noun, and an obscene anatomical reference at that.

Are there cases like this in other languages, where switching the gender can greatly change the meaning?


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#42604 - 09/27/01 02:34 PM Re: Helping further
Flatlander Offline
addict

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
The only one that comes to mind is mar, the word for "sea,"...Are there cases like this in other languages?

IIRC, The German word See means "sea" (as in one of the reputed Seven) when it is one gender (masc?) and "the ocean" (as in the one big one) when another (fem?). Can a better German speaker than I confirm/deny this? Jazzo, it was you wot started the thread...


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#42605 - 09/27/01 02:55 PM Re: El vs. La
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
There's other examples from Spanish but I can't think of any.


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#42606 - 09/27/01 03:03 PM Re: El vs. La
Hyla Offline
addict

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Faldage's inability to think of another example somehow helped me think of another example:

la radio = radio
el radio = radius


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#42607 - 09/27/01 04:50 PM Re: Helping further
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
The German word See means "sea" (as in one of the reputed Seven) when it is one gender (masc?) and "the ocean" (as in the one big one) when another (fem?).

From http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa042098.htm it appears that der See is lake and die See is ocean.


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